Time is money” is a popular saying.
I find it to be an oversimplification of what it takes to make money, but a good introduction to the role of time management in the pursuit. Time is an important resource to be managed well. This is the clear secret of successful business owners and executives — excellent time management.
Goals, priorities and contingencies need good time management to gain traction and, ultimately, achievement. Knowing what activities to emphasis and what to de-emphasize is an executive strength. It signals to the rest of the organization where you’ll focus to achieve each priority when making decisions.
A business owner’s best personal resource is time, to use well in growing and sustaining a business. There is no special technique to learn here. Time management has an internal focus based on a sense of what priorities need to be set to accomplish business goals and identify significant contingencies that might occur.
It’s also about how to get things done efficiently and effectively without relying on special time management tools and techniques. The effort can keep you up at night, drive some crazy, and at the same time mobilize your full resources to get the significant work done. It’s the ultimate business practice.
As a business owner, it’s up to you to get the priorities right. Setting the goals may be the easy part. Setting the priorities may be a bit harder. It requires information from outside and within the company. This is also what business acumen is about. Knowing what’s important in goal achievement and what is peripheral. It’s the basis of teamwork and galvanizing resources toward specific results.
The bottom line for time management success is that if you need time management tools to get things done perhaps a different career should be pursued. Sure, every so often it’s a good idea to check your time management practices to assure you’re focused correctly, but not by using sheets of hourly time/activities that detail what you do each hour.
Time management is about discipline. Successful businessmen and women instinctively know what to do with the information that crosses their desks. They already practice the rule of “touch a document or email once before deciding to act, delegate, or file for later use.”
They instinctively know how to deal with contingencies and not lose their main focus. The daily schedule (from whatever day planner you use) supports the time discipline. A quick review of each day provides a measure of success and the elimination of time wasters the next time they occur.
Time management can become an oxymoron in an age of limited to zero discretionary time. The challenge is to carve out time from other priorities to get things done and be very efficient in carrying them out. When the day is totally engaged, the best discretionary time is about a half-hour before bedtime. This is usually quiet time where you can plan ahead. It provides a chance to review the day and set up time for tomorrow’s priorities.
Time for family dinners is still “sacred” time. It’s grown harder and harder to have meals together because the schedule is so full for everyone. Set a priority of at least one meal per week to be together, even if it’s at a local restaurant. Parents who are in key executive positions, people who work on different shifts and people who travel a lot have difficulty with the discipline of dining together as a family. Calling in at the dinner hour does help if it is possible. Quality time with the family is now on weekends, so the importance of contact during the week is high.
Within every time schedule, consider building in some time to relax and shift gears. Allow for some slack to do nothing. Fifteen minutes is all you need to relax and recharge. Some people have a hard time with this since they’ve become so accustomed to the idea that every minute has to be productive and have a measureable result.
Every day there are important activities to get done at work and at home. Make sure that you have the time and patience to get them done without adding the extra burden of stress.
Bob Vecchiotti is a business adviser and professional coach in Peterborough. He lives in Dublin.